Sport

Column: Home town hero but no home town crowd

May 7, 2021 17:05 By Sean McCaffrey
Column: Home town hero but no home town crowd Column: Home town hero but no home town crowd
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Katie Taylor may have stole the boxing show, but when's the Irish show?

“Yuri Kopstev scores its 96 to 94, Michael Alexander and Andreas Stenberg both score it 96-95. All three for your winner by unanimous decision, she is still undefeated and still the undisputed lightweight champion of the world, Katie Taylor…”

After 10 exhilarating rounds of boxing between Katie Taylor and Natasha Jonas, it was left to ring announcer David Diamante to deliver the final punch line, declaring our Katie the winner for the 18th time in her in 18 professional fight career.

A fight billed as the fight of the year, and we’re only into its fifth month! but for those of us fortunate enough to watch it, it would be hard to argue with that statement.

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Both ladies have history as is often the case in this sport, Katie had accounted for Jonas at the 2012 Olympics beating the home favourite in the lightweight quarter-final on the way to her own gold medal.

The transition to the pro-game for Taylor has been seamless, hovering up world titles and remaining unbeaten. For Jonas it has been a journey of ups and downs both in the ring and with results.

Six victories at the beginning of her professional career brought Jonas the vacant WBA international female super-featherweight title in her sixth fight; she lost it on fight seven.

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Three more wins were then followed by a draw as she again went in search of a world title with her latest outing; another defeat as she tried to clean out Katie Taylors bulging trophy cabinet.

In fairness what a try it was, slowly working her way into the fight after a few tentative opening rounds from the pair.

Jonas started to find her range with a variation of one-two’s and mixed it up with a few body shots, to have the Irish boxer, suddenly realising that she was in a fight and her titles were most certainly on the line.

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Katie however is a world champion and watching as the fight went on, you could see her focus more on what she needed to do, there was no panic, no wild swinging, it was controlled, it was timed and it was near perfect.

Rounds nine and 10 could possibly go down as the best two rounds ever in ladies boxing as both boxers went toe to toe, no doubt working on second or maybe third winds, neither lady was taking a step back, the combinations in particular from Katie were relentless, a lesser opponent would have dropped, took a step back and thought no more, but credit to Jonas, she possibly knew her fight was fought, but to borrow a quote “the lady was not for turning”.

After 10 energy sapping rounds, the two embraced each other in the centre of the ring, acknowledging each other’s corners.

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David Diamante concluded the proceedings. Immediately after the result, social media was awash with comments that Katie Taylor is “Ireland’s greatest sports person” and who could argue with that?

Well maybe those that have not regularly seen her fights as a professional either on TV or in the flesh.

Since making her pro debut back in November 2016, Taylor has fought 11 times in England, once in Wales and six times in America, never on Irish soil.

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That’s no fault of hers; those fights have been all in massive venues with her last three fights taking place behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The majority of the fights have also been behind the pay wall, not everyone has access to them, an opportunity to catch her recent bout on Sky sports box office was just too good to pass up, but that was it, an opportunity not a chance.

Of course as a professional in a money making sport, every pound/euro/dollar counts and it is important to maximise the chance to get it.

But what is being noted as one of “Irelands greatest sports people” was not available to everyone to see, interestingly in the week up to the fight, very little was been made of it in the media, with it really only gaining promiance the day before, a little over 24 hours before they stepped into the ring.

The fight was part of the undercard to the heavyweight meeting of Derek Chisora and Joseph Parker, it easily upstaged that bout.

Possibly there is still an element of snobbery to female boxing, a thought of should they really be in the ring? That maybe adds to the lack of attention it sometimes fails to get, or maybe it is just not as strong a crowd/viewership puller as the male counterparts.

Whatever the case Katie’s fights come and go, she continues to win, she continues to cement her name as “Irelands greatest sports person”, but it is hard to have an affinity to that accolade, when we are limited to what we see of her in her chosen sport.

Outside of the ring Katie would appear to be a very private person and certainly does not hide her spirituality.

There is no big show or talk up done prior to any outing, in true champion form the talking is done in the ring with the gloves on.

Even afterwards the Bray native retains a shy/quite demeanour, with her world title home coming in 2019, upstaged by the then minister of sport Shane Ross. Thousands turned out to welcome home their hero on that occasion, they saw the fighter, they saw the belts, they acknowledged the greatest, but amazingly they have yet to see “Irelands greatest sports person” actually perform on Irish soil.

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